Ronica Rooks, PhD, sees herself as a rubric novice after using the same rubric for the past three years. As Rooks progresses with the implementation of rubrics, she has come to discover their attributes. “On a positive, reflective note, while this rubric was time consuming to create and needs further iterations, thus far it is an effective tool for achieving the course goals.”
Rooks, assistant professor of health and behavioral sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is the instructor for the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) course. Her course objectives are to enable students to explore the social context of physical and mental health, illness and the health care system in the United States, with some cross-national discussions. The class is small in size; in fall of 2009 Rooks had only nine registered students, made up mostly of women who are seniors or at the master’s level and have some background in sociological, psychological and/or biomedical aspects of health.
The SDOH course requires students to engage in a service learning project. The service learning is a bridge between classroom learning and community volunteerism, she says. “Students’ service learning projects allow them to apply their classroom knowledge to a real-world health problem, gain insight about and become better advocates for their causes, and acquire networks for their career development.” With the complexity of assessing a student on a service learning project, Rooks’ created an assessment rubric for the service learning project.
Rooks rubric has three rating levels including inadequate, adequate and advanced, based on how the student demonstrates his/her knowledge of an assignment. Across these ratings, if students do not discuss any examples from their textbook, in-class discussions, service learning experiences, peer-review discussions, etc., they are graded as inadequate. If they discuss a few examples in their assignments, they are graded as adequate. If they discuss multiple examples and are thinking about and presenting possible solutions to social issues in their assignments, they are graded as advanced.
“I use the rubric to give students information and clarity about my expectations for grading up front in the syllabus; to improve my grading consistency and justify to students why points might be deducted from their service learning assignments;” Rooks stresses. “Rubrics help document if student learning and progress in their assignments throughout the semester are enhanced by service learning.” See the videos online.